The American Cancer Society reminds us that more skin cancers are diagnosed each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined. Most are caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays, most of which come from exposure to the sun. One thing to remember is that you don’t have to be spending a day at the pool to be at serious risk. Simply staying in the shade will make a huge difference. If you do want to catch some rays, slip on a shirt, wear a hat and apply sunscreen with a SPF value of 30 or more. UV blocking sunglasses will help protect the delicate skin around your eyes and help you avoid certain eye diseases as well.
Summer is the season for getting as much outdoor time as possible. But, it is critical to protect your skin from the sun while you’re at it. Choosing sunscreens and knowing how different SPF levels will affect your skin can be tricky, so here are some fool-proof steps you can take to protect yourself and your children.
- Limit your midday sun exposure; the most damaging rays are between the hours of 10am and 2pm.
- Pay attention to your clothing. Loosely woven clothing and hats let UV rays through to your skin. However, these days there is specially designed SPF clothing available.
- Choose sunscreens that protect from both kinds of ultraviolet light – UVA and UVB (labeled as “broad spectrum”). SPF between 30 and 50 is ideal.
- Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before going outside and be generous with it!
- Remember your lips and ears! A waxbased sunscreen stick can protect these areas well.
- Be especially careful around water and snow, as the damaging sunrays are reflected by these surfaces and increase your exposure.
- Sunscreen sprays are fine, but be careful to not inhale the fumes (especially when using on children).
Be sure to throw away last year’s sunscreens as it decays over time and can be less effective. If you plan on being in the sun often this summer, consider using a vitamin D supplement. You always want to make a conscious effort to have a good balance of being in and out of the sun. And, always remember to ask your doctor about regular screenings for skin cancer.